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I Just Watched...

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16 minutes ago, Hibi said:

A Lost Lady isnt that bad.

It isn't that good, either. That's why I gave it a 5/10...right in the middle.

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The Mystery of Mr. X (1934) - Enjoyable romantic murder mystery from MGM and director Edgar Selwyn. Robert Montgomery stars as London-based Nick Revel, a gentleman thief whose latest heist has landed him an outrageously valuable diamond. However, a serial killer that only targets cops and who goes by the name of Mr. X strikes once again on the same night of the heist, leading Scotland Yard detectives Frensham (Henry Stephenson) and Connor (Lewis Stone) to connect the two crimes. Nick sets out to catch the real Mr. X and cool down the police heat enough to sell the diamond, but his plans get complicated when he meets Frensham's daughter Jane (Elizabeth Allan). Also featuring Ralph Forbes, Forrester Harvey, Ivan F. Simpson, Leonard Mudie, Alec B. Francis, and C. Montague Shaw.

I liked Montgomery in this role. He's started to age a bit and his characterization has more depth than usual. It seems odd to have a protagonist whose only initial goal is to make things safe enough to sell his stolen loot. Allan is also good as the emotionally conflicted Jane, worried about her father's health, and betrothed to one man while falling for another. It was also unusual seeing a serial killer who doesn't turn out to be someone with an ulterior motive - this guy just likes killing cops.   (7/10)

Source: TCM.

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'Neath the Arizona Skies (1934) - Another of those quickie John Wayne westerns, from Monogram/Lone Star and director Harry Fraser. In the barely-there plot, Wayne plays Chris Morrell, the caretaker of young half-breed Native girl Nina (Shirley Jean Rickert). Nina is owed nearly $50,000 from oil leases on her family's land, and since the girl's mother is deceased, Chris has to track down the girl's father and get his signature on some paperwork, or else prove that the man is dead, for the girl to get her money. Naturally, some bad guys led by Sam Black (Yakima Canutt) overhear the situation and decide to try and kidnap the girl and get the money themselves. For the remainder of the movie's 52 minute running time, Chris and Nina try to outwit the baddies, with help from nice lady Clara (Sheila Terry) and old coot Matt (George "Gabby" Hayes). Also featuring Jack Rockwell, Harry Fraser, Jay Wilsey, Philip Kieffer, and Earl Dwire.

This is largely indistinguishable from most of the other Lone Star westerns Wayne was in at the time: cardboard sets, bare-minimum scripting, poorly staged fist fights, and a foregone conclusion. Hayes was appearing in many of these westerns at the time, but for some reason he received no on-screen credit for this one. Wayne is slowly learning his craft, and seems just a tiny bit more natural than in previous outings.   (5/10)

Source: YouTube.

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The Ninth Guest (1934) - Gruesome horror thriller from Columbia Pictures and director Roy William Neill. 8 people receive invitations to a swanky party in their honor, but when they arrive they learn that they are trapped inside their posh surroundings. A disembodied voice announces that they have been joined by the ninth guest: death! Soon the attendees are dying one by one, and the increasingly frantic survivors try to figure out how to escape, who the culprit is, and why they are targets. Starring Donald Cook, Genevieve Tobin, Hardie Albright, Edward Ellis, Edwin Maxwell, Vince Barnett, Helen Flint, Samuel S. Hinds, Nella Walker, and Sidney Bracey.

This was like the great-grandfather of the Saw films, with a group of "guilty" people trapped and killed by various booby traps or their own bad choices, orchestrated by a foreboding voice. The performances are all good, and the tension is built up well. The culprit isn't immediately apparent, and the dark finale was appropriately grim. This won't be for everyone, but I liked it.   (7/10)

Source: YouTube.

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9 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

The Ninth Guest (1934) - Gruesome horror thriller from Columbia Pictures and director Roy William Neill. 8 people receive invitations to a swanky party in their honor, but when they arrive they learn that they are trapped inside their posh surroundings. A disembodied voice announces that they have been joined by the ninth guest: death! Soon the attendees are dying one by one, and the increasingly frantic survivors try to figure out how to escape, who the culprit is, and why they are targets. Starring Donald Cook, Genevieve Tobin, Hardie Albright, Edward Ellis, Edwin Maxwell, Vince Barnett, Helen Flint, Samuel S. Hinds, Nella Walker, and Sidney Bracey.

This was like the great-grandfather of the Saw films, with a group of "guilty" people trapped and killed by various booby traps or their own bad choices, orchestrated by a foreboding voice. The performances are all good, and the tension is built up well. The culprit isn't immediately apparent, and the dark finale was appropriately grim. This won't be for everyone, but I liked it.   (7/10)

Source: YouTube.

 

Or perhaps closely "related" to And Then There Were None (1945) and/or ITS "offspring"/remake, Ten Little Indians (1965), eh Lawrence?!

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34 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

The Ninth Guest (1934) - Gruesome horror thriller from Columbia Pictures and director Roy William Neill. 8 people receive invitations to a swanky party in their honor, but when they arrive they learn that they are trapped inside their posh surroundings. A disembodied voice announces that they have been joined by the ninth guest: death! Soon the attendees are dying one by one, and the increasingly frantic survivors try to figure out how to escape, who the culprit is, and why they are targets. Starring Donald Cook, Genevieve Tobin, Hardie Albright, Edward Ellis, Edwin Maxwell, Vince Barnett, Helen Flint, Samuel S. Hinds, Nella Walker, and Sidney Bracey.

This was like the great-grandfather of the Saw films, with a group of "guilty" people trapped and killed by various booby traps or their own bad choices, orchestrated by a foreboding voice. The performances are all good, and the tension is built up well. The culprit isn't immediately apparent, and the dark finale was appropriately grim. This won't be for everyone, but I liked it.   (7/10)

Source: YouTube.

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Per chance, I picked the "Ninth Guest" out of the YouTube menu and watched it last week.

Agatha Christie movies and made for TV films are a hobby of mine;   I collect them on DVD.

Maybe I'm just a little jaded, but my advice for this one is: Don't bother, unless you got a little bit of sadistic interest in fire and electrocution and average acting for the 30's.

But I have to admit that I was also not that impressed with the 1945 "And Then There Were None".

But some of those actors in that film are absolute Legends and it's worth watching to see them working all together.

You must see : Barry Fitzgerald, Judith Anderson, C Aubrey Smith, Mischa Auer, Roland Young, Walter Huston, Richard Haydn and Louis Hayward. I bought the DVD just to see the actors, but the production was  lackluster and dull.

Also, I have to admit that the Agatha Christie BBC, ITV/PBS Productions have probably ruined me for anything else. LOL

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56 minutes ago, Dargo said:

Or perhaps closely "related" to And Then There Were None (1945) and/or ITS "offspring"/remake, Ten Little Indians (1965), eh Lawrence?!

So did Christie, whose book was first published in '39, get her idea from The Ninth Guest? Probably not, as I'm sure there are earlier uses of the same basic set-up.

37 minutes ago, Princess of Tap said:

Per chance, I picked the "Ninth Guest" out of the YouTube menu and watched it last week.

Maybe I'm just a little jaded, but my advice for this one is: Don't bother, unless you got a little bit of sadistic interest in fire and electrocution and average acting for the 30's.

Meh, I enjoyed it. 

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57 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

So did Christie, whose book was first published in '39, get her idea from The Ninth Guest? Probably not, as I'm sure there are earlier uses of the same basic set-up. 

Yeah, the plot IS fairly evergreen, I suppose.

In fact Lawrence, just this past Saturday morning I watched an old Maverick rerun on MeTV, and its plot was a variation on this theme, with Garner being scammed by a con man and buying what he thought was the deed to a riverboat, but it turns out when he goes to claim it, the conman had reproduced the deed a number of other times and had sold it to five others.

The six of them then depart on the old decrepit riverboat down the Mississippi River from St. Louis to Memphis and where there is a big financier who once owned it and now wants to buy it back.

And yep, one by one, some of those owners get knocked off during the voyage, and suspicion of each other of them begins to run rampant.

And yep, I'm sure the teleplay's writer "borrowed" his idea from some earlier source material.

(...and perhaps from the very film which you just reviewed, but most likely from the more well-known Agatha Christie story)

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Now and Forever (1934) - Surprisingly effective drama from Paramount Pictures and director Henry Hathaway. Gary Cooper stars as Jerry Day, a con man who roams the luxury spots of the world with his girlfriend Toni (Carole Lombard), staying one step ahead of the law and bill collectors. He learns that he has a 6-year old daughter named Penny (Shirley Temple) from a previous relationship. It seems the child's mother has died, but since she was wealthy, Jerry sees a potential payday, so he takes charge of the young girl. However, the child's infectious charm causes Jerry to reassess his lifestyle and change his ways, a decision that may be easier said than done. Also featuring Sir Guy Standing, Charlotte Granville, Gilbert Emery, Henry Kolker, Tetsu Komai, Akim Tamiroff, and Richard Loo.

I'm not normally a fan of Temple's films, which I find overly sentimental and sickly sweet. However, this outing, in which she's supporting, is much easier to take, even if there is more than a little saccharine. Cooper is good as the morally compromised man trying to change his ways. He's especially effective in the rather dark final act. Temple is Temple, while Lombard doesn't have a lot to do. Granville is enjoyable as a rich old widow who wants to adopt Temple. While the money may be nice, I'm not sure how many years old Charlotte has left in her to be raising a 6-year-old to maturity. I liked this more than expected, and would recommend it to those who have perhaps avoided it due to Temple's presence.   (7/10)

Source: TCM.

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20 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

It isn't that good, either. That's why I gave it a 5/10...right in the middle.

 

I've only seen it once. I dont remember it being awful, so that's probably about right. For some reason it rarely pops up on TCM, though I think it's a WB film........

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32 minutes ago, Hibi said:

 

I've only seen it once. I dont remember it being awful, so that's probably about right. For some reason it rarely pops up on TCM, though I think it's a WB film........

I recorded it off of TCM a few weeks ago, so they show it occasionally. I've only recently begun trying to watch all of the Stanwyck films that I haven't seen, so I wasn't paying attention in the past to how often it was shown.

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Sorry I missed it, Would've liked to have watched it again. It's not on very much.

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The Old Fashioned Way (1934) - Excellent comedy from Paramount Pictures and director William Beaudine. W.C. Fields stars as "The Great McGonigle", the head of a two-bit traveling theatrical troupe. As they arrive in a new town to perform their signature show, the temperance hit The Drunkard, McGonigle also has to deal with bill collectors, a young man eager to join the show (Joe Morrison) and who is also wooing McGonigle's daughter Betty (Judith Allen), local townswoman Cleopatra Pepperday (Jan Duggan) who wishes to join the show, and her troublemaking young child (Baby LeRoy). Also featuring Tammany Young, Nora Cecil, Oscar Apfel, and Jack Mulhall.

Comedy is the most subjective of genres, and if you don't care for Fields' style I doubt this would change your mind. But I enjoy him, and there are several funny sequences here. One highlight of the film is seeing Fields perform some of his juggling act that made him a name on the vaudeville stage years earlier. It's quite impressive. Recommended.  (8/10)

Source: Universal DVD, part of the W.C. Fields Comedy Favorites Collection.

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46 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

The Old Fashioned Way (1934) - Excellent comedy from Paramount Pictures and director William Beaudine. W.C. Fields stars as "The Great McGonigle", the head of a two-bit traveling theatrical troupe. As they arrive in a new town to perform their signature show, the temperance hit The Drunkard

The Drunkard actually was a big hit with the previous generation (back when it was touring pre-Prohibition propaganda against the social evils of the corner saloon), and as the credits tell us, two of the original touring lead actors are granted honorary cameos as members of the audience.

But you can guess how Evils-of-drink melodrama would be perfect fodder for Fields--Especially the running joke of Field's stagehand missing his cue for the handful of snow on "'Tain't a fit night out for man nor beast..."

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On demande une brute (1934) - aka Brute Wanted. French comedy short from writers Jacques Tati and Rene Clement and director Charles Barrios. Tati stars as an out-of-work actor with a nagging wife who suggests he answer an ad in the paper looking for those who can play "violent men". Tati goes to the audition and gets the part, only to learn that it's not in a play but rather in a wrestling match, where he will have to face the fearsome Krotov the Tatar. Also featuring Helene Pepee, Rhum, Raymond Turgy, and Jean Clairval.

This runs just over twenty minutes, but it still finds time to elicit some laughs. Tati plays his role with little dialogue, but his tall and lanky body language says enough. This was the 27-year-old Tati's first script and his second acting appearance.   (6/10)

Source: FilmStruck.

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1 hour ago, LawrenceA said:

The Old Fashioned Way (1934)

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The highlight of this film for me is when Cleopatra Pepperday (the outrageous Jan Duggan) sings an old fashioned chestnut, "Gathering Up The Shells By The Seashore" while prancing around the room. Fields watches in polite silence, because she's the richest woman in town and he wants the dough, but he looks like he'd love to find an exit door from the room.

Duggan is hilarious here but what I also appreciate about this scene is that, even though this is clearly a Fields vehicle, he sits back and lets her have the scene, knowing it will be a stronger film for it.

In first observing Pepperday's ludicrous head to toe frilly dress, Fields mutters as an aside, "She's all dressed up like a well kept grave." But when he then discovers her wealth she becomes, "The cow with the silver lining."

 

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Operator 13 (1934) - Silly Civil War-era musical/romance/spy movie from MGM and director Richard Boleslawski. Marion Davies stars as Gail Loveless, a stage performer who gets recruited by the Union army to act as an undercover spy. She's sent to infiltrate the army of General Stuart (Douglass Dumbrille), which she does in blackface, pretending to be a black maid. She and fellow spy Pauline (Katharine Alexander) barely escape, only for Gail to be sent back down south, this time as a white lady, where she inadvertently falls in love with Confederate officer Jack (Gary Cooper). Also featuring Jean Parker, Ted Healy, Sidney Toler, Russell Hardie, Henry Wadsworth, Fuzzy Knight, Robert McWade, Wade Boteler, Theresa Harris, Samuel S. Hinds, Sterling Holloway, Curly Howard, Edgar Kennedy, Hattie McDaniel, Clarence Muse, Wheeler Oakman, E. Alyn Warren, and the Mills Brothers.

This mash-up of genres and styles never comes together, and seems assembled from several script fragments laying around the MGM offices. Seeing as there are at least 10 different screenwriters believed to have worked on this, that assessment may not be far off. Davies gives it her best try, but the early sections of the film with her in blackface and acting in an exaggerated "mammy" caricature are cringeworthy at best. She's much better in the later sections, during which she gets to sing a song while Cooper pushes her on a swing. Cooper looks bored, embarrassed, or sleepy, depending on the scene. The movie earned an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography (George J. Folsey). This has a 7.8 out of 10 score on IMDb, so most viewers seem to like it a lot more than I did. All I can muster for it is a 5/10.

Source: TCM.

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52 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

Operator 13 (1934) - Silly Civil War-era musical/romance/spy movie from MGM... 

....Cooper looks bored, embarrassed, or sleepy, depending on the scene.

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Say Lawrence! Ya think it's possible this movie left SUCH a bad taste in Coop's mouth that THIS might be the very reason he refused even consider taking the Rhett Butler part in that other Civil War flick of some repute?

(...well, Coop DID say that that one would bomb TOO, now didn't he?!)

;)

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The Private Life of Don Juan (1934) - Entertaining swashbuckling romantic comedy from United Artists and director Alexander Korda. Douglas Fairbanks, in his final role, stars as the legendary Spanish lover in his later years, when his legend has outgrow his reality. There is an epidemic of young men pretending to be Don Juan in order to woo lonely wives, and tales of Don Juan's past escapades have been published and are found on every street corner in Seville. But the real Don Juan has aches in his joints from too many years jumping off of balconies to escape jealous husbands, as well as lines on his face and gray in his hair. When one of the impostors is killed in a duel, Don Juan takes it as an opportunity to retire and move to the countryside under an assumed identity. But life as the world's greatest lover is hard to put away, and soon he begins to wish for his old glory. Also featuring Merle Oberon, Melville Cooper, Benita Hume, Gina Malo, Binnie Barnes, Joan Gardner, Barry MacKay, Claud Allister, Patricia Hilliard, Clifford Heatherley, Elsa Lanchester, Abraham Sofaer, and Athene Seyler.

This was a terrific send off for Fairbanks, as there are many parallels between his character and himself. His distinctly American voice may seem out of place, but I allowed for the discrepancy. He was still in tremendous shape, performing some climbing and jumping stunts, and a bit of swordplay. Oberon has rarely, if ever, been lovelier, and I got a kick out of Cooper as Don Juan's exasperated manservant. The costumes and sets are top notch, and director Korda keeps things moving along at a fine clip. A perfectly enjoyable romp, with some deeper things to say about the acceptance of aging, and the nature of reputation and legend.   (7/10)

Source: FilmStruck.

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44 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

The Private Life of Don Juan (1934)

 

I agree that this film is entertaining, and it makes interesting comparison to the John Barrymore and Errol Flynn versions. Barrymore is a cynical predator while Flynn's world weary version of the Don is getting a bit tired of the chase.

Fairbanks is said to have hated the aging process, yet he good naturedly allowed his character to be the butt of the humour with the screenplay's numerous aging references. His Don Juan is also, in spite of his reputation, portrayed as a bit naive when it comes the fair sex. The Korda production is also noteworthy for its striking black and white photography.

I agree, Lawrence, that this was an effective costumer for the man who had started movie swashbucklers to have ended his career. I recall the shocked, horrified look on an aging Don Juan's face when a homely middle aged woman (Athene Seyler) proposes marriage to him, saying, "You've no money, no looks, not very much brains and you're no chicken. Well, neither am I."

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Fairbanks' Don Juan applying his lovemaking technique to Binnie Barnes but the lady is less than impressed

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16 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Operator 13 (1934) - Silly Civil War-era musical/romance/spy movie from MGM and director Richard Boleslawski. Marion Davies stars as Gail Loveless, a stage performer who gets recruited by the Union army to act as an undercover spy. She's sent to infiltrate the army of General Stuart (Douglass Dumbrille), which she does in blackface, pretending to be a black maid. She and fellow spy Pauline (Katharine Alexander) barely escape, only for Gail to be sent back down south, this time as a white lady, where she inadvertently falls in love with Confederate officer Jack (Gary Cooper).

 

I mentioned before that Pauline Cushman was a real person who famously spied for the North and that Emma Edwards actually covered her shin with a chemical that turned it dark and posed as a bi-racial slave to get information from the South to the North.  I saw this film earlier this year and was impressed with Marion Davies, whom I knew only by reputation. and Jean Parker.  it's an interesting part of history for those who might not know the facts. 

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1 hour ago, wouldbestar said:

I mentioned before that Pauline Cushman was a real person who famously spied for the North and that Emma Edwards actually covered her shin with a chemical that turned it dark and posed as a bi-racial slave to get information from the South to the North. 

I'll go out on a limb and guess that you made a typo, but if not, if she was able to turn just her shin dark and get away with the ruse, she's all the more impressive! :lol:

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The Return of Bulldog Drummond (1934) - British action movie is a stark departure from the earlier Ronald Colman film, this one from British International Pictures and director Walter Summers. Ralph Richardson steps into the title role as the former military man turned private detective. He's now settled down and married to Phyllis (Ann Todd), but when an international cabal of arms dealers led by Drummond's nemesis Carl Peterson (Francis L. Sullivan) uses murder to try and thwart peace talks, thus causing another world war from which they can profit, Drummond organizes his fellow military comrades into a secret group known as the "Black Clan" to stop Peterson's gang. Also featuring Joyce Kennedy, Claud Allister, H. Saxon-Snell, Spencer Trevor, and Charles Mortimer.

Colman's turn as the title character was a suave adventure done on a lark, with as much comedy as suspense. This outing is more akin to a Saturday morning serial, with multiple cliffhanger moments, nefarious villains straight from a comic strip, and the odd sight of Drummond and his Black Clan allies dressed in matching black outfits and leather aviator caps. Richardson seems like an odd casting choice, but he's good with the verbal putdowns and he's surprisingly energetic during his many fisticuffs scenes. The following year he would appear in the next Drummond film, Alias Bulldog Drummond aka Bulldog Jack, but not in the title role.  (6/10)

Source: FilmStruck. The print is in mediocre condition, unusual for this streaming service.

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Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) New York Tail Fin Noir

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This is one of the great New York Film Noir.

This film was directed by Robert Wise director of Born to Kill (1947), The Set-Up (1949), The House on Telegraph Hill (1951), Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), I Want to Live! (1958), it was based on a novel by William P. McGivern, and the screenplay was by Abraham Polonsky. As one of Hollywood's writers blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee, Polonsky had to use a front, John O. Killens, a black novelist and friend of Belafonte's, also credited is writer Nelson Gidding.

The excellent crisp stylistically noir cinematography (some of it infrared) of New York City and Upstate New York, filled with beautiful monochrome compositions was by Joseph C. Brun (Walk East on Beacon! 1952), Girl of the Night (1960), Who Killed Teddy Bear (1965)) and the jazzy Music was by John Lewis and the Modern Jazz Quartet. This film was one of the first productions from Harry Belafonte's own company, HarBel Productions.

The film stars four Classic Noir Vets with a total of twenty six Film Noir between them. Robert Ryan, who specialized in crazed, on the verge of out of control nut jobs. Shelley Winters, the eternal **** in her own mind, who in later years, never seemed to realize she was way past her use by date. Everybody's grandpa Ed Begley. And Gloria Grahame, whose real life bizarre sexual peccadillos rivaled that of even the kinkyest Film Noir.

In addition to the above, and also with an excellent performance in his film noir debut is the "King Of Calypso" Harry Belafonte.

10/10 Full review with some screencaps here in Film Noir/Gangster.

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The Rise of Catherine the Great (1934) - British biopic of the Russian empress, from producer Alexander Korda and director Paul Czinner. Elisabeth Bergner stars as the naive young German princess who is arranged to marry Peter II (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.), the heir to the Russian throne. Peter is a moody, petulant brat, long suffering the animosity of the reigning Empress Elisabeth (Flora Robson). While it appears that Catherine and Peter may just be what the other needed, soon Peter's attentions wander, and Catherine sets out to gain the throne for herself. Also featuring Gerald du Maurier, Irene Vanbrugh, Joan Gardner, Dorothy Hale, Diana Napier, Griffith Jones, and Gibb McLaughlin.

It was interesting comparing this to the same year's The Scarlet Empress, which I just rewatched recently. That film is far superior, one of the best of the year, but this one isn't bad, either. The biggest weakness of this version is Bergner, a very peculiar actress in both look and demeanor. She was a major star of the Austrian and German stage world, and she moved to London to escape the Nazis. She had high profile roles in this, Escape Me Never (1935) which earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, and the Shakespeare adaptation As You Like It in 1936, opposite a young Olivier. She fades in the shadow of Marlene Dietrich in the role, and Bergner fails to convincingly imbue her with the strength needed for the later scenes. 

The largest difference between the two is the depiction of Peter. In The Scarlet Empress, he's played by Sam Jaffe as a jabbering man-child barely able to operate in the civilized world. Conversely, Fairbanks plays him as a spoiled rich kid, but one with shades of maturity trying to break out, and he also adds a romantic attraction that Jaffe couldn't on his best day. The great Flora Robson is a treat here, just as spoiled and temperamental as her nephew, and she gives the equally revered Louise Dresser in the other film some stiff competition for who played it best. This version features very good costume and set work, but again, the sets can't match the grostesqueries in the other film nor that film's exquisite cinematography.   (7/10)

Source: FilmStruck.

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